The Union of American Physicians and Dentists (UAPD) demonstrated its power to affect positive change in its first two contract negotiations in Washington state.
Stalled in bargaining for two years with the Multicare health system, UAPD members of the Legacy Urgent Care centers had enough. They organized a large informational picket with other labor groups in Washington. After peppering the employer with notices, flyers and news articles about a humane closing policy Multicare acceded to UAPD’s demands just before the scheduled picket. They agreed to allow urgent care physicians and advanced providers to leave at the end of their twelve-hour shifts. This concession is a major victory for the safe delivery of urgent care in Washington state and beyond.
In another equally historic contract victory, UAPD persuaded Multicare to eliminate its salary withhold policy for physicians at Auburn (WA) Medical Center. The draconian salary withholds of 10-20% are a common practice for health care system employers in Washington and the rest of the US. The employer typically holds back a portion of a physician’s salary “in escrow” until the physician employee satisfies certain performance criteria. Facing a formal unfair labor practice charge filed by UAPD, Multicare retracted their withhold policy in a mass memorandum to their employees. UAPD is continuing to break new ground and negotiate for better working conditions in other many physician contracts in California and Washington.
UAPD President Stuart Bussey, MD, JD summed up “…these two great accomplishments are but a preview of what unions can do for physicians and providers in both private and public health systems. Our contracts improve patient safety and prevent physician burnout. It’s beyond time to organize and take back our profession from employers with a weak moral compass.”